Biography of Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee is the greatest master of martial arts, who, thanks to his unique talent, dedication and hard work, has become a real world legend and has gained millions of followers in all corners of the planet. A talented actor, director and screenwriter who managed to embody all the beauty and power of oriental martial techniques on the screen.
Pictured: Bruce Lee
Childhood and youth
Bruce Lee was born in the United States, where his father, Lee Hoi Chen, a Canton Opera artist, was on tour at the time. On the trip, he was accompanied by his pregnant wife, Grace Lee, a beautiful half-breed, a Chinese woman with German roots. When it became clear that the birth would take place any day, Lee Hoi left his wife in the San Francisco clinic, while he continued to perform. On November 27, 1940, in the year and hour of the Dragon, a boy was born who was destined to become a world legend. The baby was born between 6 and 8 o’clock in the morning, and in the medieval Asian time reckoning, this interval was called the hour of the Dragon.
Bruce Lee as an infant with his parents
The newborn baby was given several names at once. According to the Chinese calendar, he was named Li Xiao Long (“Little Dragon”), in the birth certificate issued at the clinic, the child was listed as Bruce Lee (as the midwife called him), and the mother christened the baby Li Zhen Fan, which in Chinese meant “Come back.” Grace really wanted her son to return to America when he grew up.
Newborn Bruce’s papers
Returning with a baby to their native Hong Kong, where their adopted daughter Phoebe and eldest son Peter were waiting for them, the parents pretended that they had a girl named Li Yun Fang (“Baby Phoenix”). In this way they tried to deceive the “evil spirits”, who, in their opinion, took away the first son who died in infancy. Bruce was even initially dressed in girl’s clothes and put an earring in his ear so that no one had any doubts. It is interesting that he also first appeared on the screen as a girl, playing the three-month-old daughter of the main character in the drama “Golden Gate Girl”.
Bruce Lee as a child
Although by Hong Kong standards the head of the family made a good living (most of his income came from renting apartments), any American would be horrified by the look of their housing. The family, together with grandparents, servants and a large German shepherd, lived in a huge hall, in the center of which there was a dining table, at which all life passed: they not only ate, but also studied, worked and played at it. The house had running water, but water came out of the pipes for several hours a week. However, the living conditions of the Bruce family were much better than those of most ordinary peasants and workers, huddled in shacks with almost dirt floors.
The house where the Bruce Lee family rented an apartment
When Bruce grew up, his parents assigned him to a Jesuit school, from which he was soon expelled for poor academic performance and disgusting behavior. The boy studied very badly, he especially hated mathematics and grammar, and his favorite pastime was bullying classmates. Because of this, he often came home with bruises and bumps, which made his parents incredibly upset.
The first role of Bruce Lee (“The Birth of Mankind”)
Lee Hoi Chen tried in every possible way to set his son on the right path and took him with him to the theater and to the shooting. Thanks to this, Bruce got into the cinema early and at the age of six he played a little thief in the film “The Birth of Humankind”. The father dreamed that his son would become an artist, and he understood that, despite the thin physique, disproportionately long arms and a slightly twisted left leg, the boy had a natural plasticity and an innate sense of rhythm. So he gave it to the dance, which Bruce unexpectedly liked.
In his youth, Bruce Lee was fond of dancing
At the age of thirteen, the young man crossed the threshold of a dance class for the first time, and four years later he won the Hong Kong Cha-Cha Championship. But, despite the new hobby, the restless teenager did not stop getting involved in street fights, and after one of them, which ended not in his favor, he decided to professionally engage in martial arts.
Bruce Lee and his teacher Ip Man
He settled on the Wing Chun style (short-range combat without the use of weapons) and came to the best master of this military technique, the former policeman Ip Men, who opened his own school in Hong Kong. The teacher immediately appreciated the plasticity and coordination of the teenager, as well as the speed and dexterity of his movements. Bruce showed unprecedented success, but street fights still beckoned him. One day, the young man clashed in a showdown with members of a well-known Hong Kong criminal gang and decently finished two. It is not customary for people from the criminal world to forgive offenders, so Bruce was in mortal danger. The frightened mother immediately packed her things for her son, bought a ticket and sent him to the States, since Bruce, who was born in the USA, had American citizenship.
Bruce Lee in his youth
So in 1959, the young man again ended up in America: first in San Francisco, then he moved to Seattle, where he stayed with friends and got a job in their restaurant. A year later, he entered the Edison Technical School, where he made up for gaps in grammar and the exact sciences, and then became a student at the University of Washington.
Despite being busy, Bruce did not give up playing sports, but, on the contrary, devoted all his free time to training. He mastered a wide variety of kung fu, jiu-jitsu and judo techniques, and used the trees in the park as sparring dummies, wrapping them in blankets.
Bruce Lee devoted all his free time to training
In 1961, Lee opened his own martial arts school, where he began teaching Jeet Kune Do, his own style of kung fu, developed through regular, grueling practice. Everyone could study in it, and not only Asians, as was previously accepted, which fundamentally distinguished this institution from many similar ones.
The classes were not cheap (almost $300 an hour), but worth the money. Bruce perfected his original technique until his death, developed a special nutrition system for students. He was constantly in impeccable shape and subjected himself to extreme loads that his associates never dreamed of.
But not only thanks to sports achievements, Bruce Lee became a world legend. He managed to completely change the idea of combat fights in cinema and bring them to another qualitative level. If earlier on-screen fights had to be accelerated to make them more spectacular, then Bruce’s fights, on the contrary, were slowed down so that the audience could fully enjoy his magnificent technique.
Bruce Lee managed to completely change the idea of combat fights in cinema
During his short life, the actor managed to star in 36 films, many of which have become classics of cinema.
Bruce Lee in the series The Green Hornet
Despite the fact that numerous episodic works in childhood and adolescence did not bring him wide popularity, Bruce gained invaluable experience, which was useful to him in the future. Having moved to the USA, the young man continued to act in TV series, but he did not wait for serious roles.
Upon learning that a new Golden Harvest film studio had opened in Hong Kong, he decided to return to his homeland, and in 1971 left America. Bruce managed to persuade the director of the studio not only to entrust him with the main role in the film “Big Boss” (1971), but also to allow him to stage all the fight scenes. The success of the film exceeded all expectations, and Lee received a unique opportunity not only to demonstrate his acting and sports skills, but also directly participate in the creation of the following films.
Bruce Lee in “Big Boss”
In 1972, “Fist of Fury” and “Way of the Dragon” were released, which became real bestsellers and made Bruce a star. Enter the Dragon (1973) was a resounding success, a week after Lee’s unexpected death. This picture has become a worthy requiem to the great actor and athlete, and the final duel with Chuck Norris is considered the best in the history of world cinema.
The last film with the participation of Bruce Lee was the action movie The Game of Death (1978), which had to be filmed without him, with the help of an understudy. The picture includes documentary footage from the funeral of the actor.
Shot from the film “The Game of Death”
In 1993, his personal star was solemnly opened on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Bruce Lee’s personal life
Bruce met his future wife, Linda Emery, in Seattle. The girl, like him, studied at the University of Washington and in 1961 came to his kung fu classes. Sympathy arose between the martial arts master and the 17-year-old beauty, which gradually grew into love. Linda became a loyal fan and devoted student of Bruce, and in 1964, the official wife.
Bruce Lee and Linda Emery in their youth
A year later, baby Brandon was born to the couple, and in 1969 baby Shannon was born. Brandon, like his father, became an actor and, by a tragic accident, passed away before he even reached the age of thirty.
Bruce Lee with his wife and children
The young man died on the set of the film “The Crow” from a pistol shot, which, due to the negligence of the pyrotechnician, turned out to be loaded with a live cartridge.
Brandon Lee died young on the set of The Crow
Shannon also became an actress, but has not acted in films for many years. The last film with her participation, the action movie “Lessons for an Assassin”, was released in 2003. now, together with his mother, he heads the Foundation of his legendary father. Shannon left acting due to the birth of her daughter Ren Lee Kesler in 2003.
Daughter of Bruce Lee Shannon
The unexpected death of Bruce Lee, who was in his prime and in perfect physical shape, shocked millions of his fans. Until now, his departure causes a lot of gossip and speculation.
According to official information, the actor died on July 20, 1973 from cerebral edema caused by an allergic reaction to a headache drug. However, there is a version that mafiosi nevertheless got to Bruce, who sent a killer to him, who owns the “delayed death” technique. The actor was buried in Seattle, and to this day, martial artists from all over the world come to bow to his grave.
Bruce Lee is buried in Lake View Cemetery in Seattle.
In 2012, the documentary “I Am Bruce Lee” was released, which included clippings from an interview with Bruce himself, his rare photographs, as well as memories of his relatives and colleagues.
In the homeland of the actor, in Hong Kong, a monument was erected to mark his 65th birthday. The day before its opening, a similar monument appeared in the Zrenjevac park in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, an almost two-meter figure of Bruce Lee is installed in the Chinatown of Los Angeles.
Monument to Bruce Lee in Hong Kong
A 20-meter statue of Bruce was erected in the Chinese city of Shunde, the city where the ancestors of the martial artist’s parents come from. The monument is located on the territory of Bruce Lee Paradise Park.
Giant statue of Bruce Lee in China
In 2019, Quentin Tarantino released Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. One of the episodic heroes of the tape was Bruce Lee. But in the Tarantino film, Bruce was not a very good guy: in this scene he appears as an arrogant and star-studded actor, challenging Brad Pitt’s character, stuntman Cliff Booth, to a fight. Spoiler: Butt sends Lee to the ground with one punch.
Frame from the film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Shannon Lee criticized Tarantino’s film and the director himself. In response, Quentin noted that in real life, Bruce Lee really was an arrogant guy. Shannon advised the director to “shut up”.